The Dictator

Like many people, I was excited about Sasha Baron Cohen’s new venture thanks to its heavy marketing.

With all the hype surrounding the film, including the infamous Kim Jong-il-bomb of Ryan Seacrest on the Oscar red carpet, I was ready for another LOL (laugh out loud) feature reminiscent of Bruno but apprehensive given my dislike of Borat.

Unfortunately, Cohen hugely missed the mark this time around.

The film is filled with immature jokes that take stab at homosexuality (I wonder what Bruno would think about ‘cock sucker’ being used as an insult) and feminism (all feminists have hairy armpits hahahaha). Worse are the jokes about rape (think Borat) and child abuse that are done in very poor humor.  One hopes that joking about raping young boys is not what comedy has come to.

Furthermore, as someone from an Islamic familial background, I’m always aware of the dangerous stereotypes that surround Muslims. Many, including my own cousins and Aunties and Uncles and Friends have balanced a life of faith with the secular aspects of society – and this represents a large majority of Muslims despite what you may hear or see in contemporary films or even the news. (I go so far as to say that Dictators and Terrorists are not Muslims. Calling myself white and aligning myself to perceived Caucasian culture will never change the brown color of my skin).

Whilst Cohen’s films have always had the sub-text of trying to point out that everyone is the same, his rhetoric is confusing. Many do subtlety well. Cohen does not. I found myself constantly second-guessing the premise of his humor and whether it was a genuine satirical take at Muslim stereotypes.

Overall I wouldn’t recommend the film unless you’re in a silly mood.  The political humor and societal reflection is also a bit of a hit and miss – definitely not one for those looking for a thinker (try The President is Coming for good post-9/11 humor).

As an ending thought, one also wonders if a Muslim actor playing a Jewish character would be received with such hospitality?

Rating : 2/5

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